Nuclear Energy and Our Nuclear Future
I have been a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, since the mid 1980’s when I was in medical school at Dartmouth Medical School. It seemed then, as it still seems today, that a nuclear war, even of limited nature, could be the greatest threat to humans ever, and an all out nuclear war even using a fraction of the nuclear warheads available which are targeted at major population centers, could be virtual extinction. Now I’m not an alarmist, and I don’t like fear based news and propaganda, that’s what got us into the Iraq war. Remember weapons of mass destruction (that turned out not to be there)? The Iraq war alone has now cost 500 billion and the repercussions will live on for decades.
War is not the answer.
The cold war between Russia and the USA has been over for 20 years, yet we still have hundreds of nuclear war heads aimed at each other as a “deterrent”. It’s time that we as a people of this country and people of the world, start demanding changes from our governments, that will reduce numbers and killing capacities of the war heads that are deployed, and put in further safe guards for the ones that already exist. We are too educated and too smart to just sit by and let politicians do what they do on this one. This is neither a republican or democratic issue. Every president since JF Kennedy and WWII has had their hand in strengthening nuclear capabilities and expanding the amount of money spent on nuclear.
The other issue with nuclear activities is the serious pollution produced in the process of making nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The story of Coldwater Creek is a chilling reminder of such dangers. Starting with the famous Manhattan Project, as St. Louis’ Mallinckrodt Chemical Works enriched uranium for the world’s first controlled nuclear reaction in 1942. For 15 years they would dump their hazardous waste, including uranium-238 (with it’s half life of 4.5 billions years) and thorium-232 (with half life of 14 billions years) straight into the local watershed. Residents of Coldwater Creek area are showing up some 40 years later with stunning numbers of cancer, autoimmune diseases and birth defects, with more than 100 brain tumors, 50 thyroid cancers, 30 appendix cancers and dozens of leukemia’s, multiple sclerosis and lymphomas. This list goes on.
As our country grapples with getting alternative energy, I hope we learn from this past with nuclear and put our efforts into clean and renewable energy. There is limitless energy to be harnessed form the sun, and wind and waves to name just a few.
I hope my patients will accept this diversion into a slightly hot area. If we are concerned about our family’s health and the health of our planet that our future generations need, then we should not ignore this issue.
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